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Israel launched a new spy satellite into orbit from a launchpad in the center of the country early Monday morning, the Defense Ministry said.
Ofek 16 is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced technologies, all Israeli made.
Once operational, the satellite will be run by the Israel Defense Forces and will orbit along with other Israeli military satellites.
“Our network of satellites lets us watch the entire Middle East — and even a bit more than that,” said Shlomi Sudari, the head of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space program in a briefing.
In this photo released by Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office, the “Ofek 16” reconnaissance satellite blasts off at the Palmachim air base in central Israel Monday, July 6, 2020. The new satellite, which quickly entered orbit, joins a collection of spy satellites that Israel has deployed in recent years.
(Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office via AP)
In a phone briefing with Fox News’ Amnon Hariri, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Department said the launch went off with no hiccups.
“We hope that one day we will be able to monitor the region or any other place we’re interested in 24 hours a day and we will have videos,” he explained. “Now Ofek 16 brings us closer to our goal.”
The satellites will give Israel a better coverage and early warnings of any Iranian activity such as planned Iranian missile launches and tests, and information on activities at sites where components of Iran’s nuclear program are developed and produced.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the launch of Ofek 16 is a “great achievement for the defense establishment, the defense industries in general and Israel Aerospace Industries in particular.”
“The State of Israel’s technological and intelligence superiority is the cornerstone of its security,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’ll continue to strengthen and fortify Israel’s strength on every front and every place.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his social media account “we never stop our security efforts. The success of Ofek 16 enlarging our capabilities to fight Israel’s enemies, close and far, in the sea, on the ground, in the air and in Space.”
The launch came amid recent explosions in Iranian infrastructures, one of them in the Natanz nuclear facility which caused “significant damage” to a building used to develop advanced centrifuges. Iran’s top security body has said it is withholding conclusions regarding the cause of the incident for security reasons.
Israel is among the 13 countries of the world that are capable of launching satellites. Iran announced back in April 2020 that it has finally managed to launch a military satellite into space.